July 13, 2010

An open letter to Seventeen Magazine, also, WHY ARE YOU UGLY WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU

I started writing an email to Seventeen about this, but then at the suggestion of a tweeter, figured it would have more power if I just posted it here. Commenters, please add your two cents! I would also like to direct you to this awesome blog, The Seventeen Magazine Project, a documentation of one girl's experience living under the magazine's advice for a month.
(Bottom right hand corner.)
Dear Seventeen,

I am writing you concerning your headline on your June/July cover, "THE PARTY DRUG THAT CAN MAKE YOU FAT & UGLY." I hope you keep these problems in mind for your future issues.

First of all, "fat" is a descriptive term. It is not a negative thing if it is what is healthiest for a person, and I mean ACTUAL health, not like how your "Health" section is really just code for "Skinny" ("Feel lighter and leaner!") It's very disappointing to see your efforts with the body peace treaty and Jess Weiner's column about body image contradicted with the suggestion that fat=ugly.

By trying to discourage the use of drugs with the threats that it will make someone fat and ugly, you're saying the worst thing that can happen to your average reader, a teenage girl, as a result of drug use, is not that she will have any damage done to her brain or become unhappy, but that her appearance will suffer (again, being fat does not mean bad appearance, but that is what you imply.) Notice anything wrong with this picture?

I know that the reality is that people do value looks over intelligence, and that therefore, the easiest way to convince them not to do pot is that it will make them unattractive. But it doesn't have to be that way. Pop culture and the media, two things teenagers especially breathe, have quite a bit to do with the way teenage girls are expected to value beauty over all else. You, Seventeen, do too, and you have an influence, so use it. I know your intentions are good, but there are ways to discourage drug use without taking away from another important message. Teenage girls are worth more than looks, and we don't need another media outlet telling us otherwise.

Sincerely,
Tavi

P.S. I'm just taking a guess here, but could it be at all possible that your valuing looks over intelligence or happiness is somehow related to your advertising content?

(Image source.)

368 comments:

1 – 200 of 368   Newer›   Newest»
Maggie said...

Wow, you are my hero. Rock on!

annamargrete said...

YOu're a good writer, and I agree with you on this one! Hope they take you seriously.

baptise said...

Your courage is inspiring!

BRIANA said...

Way to be! I couldn't agree more.

www.brianathismoment.com

Erin said...

I agree with every comment above. The advertising isn't surprising, if you look at any teen magazine, from Girls' Life to Seventeen, that's what you see.

Thank you for taking a stand on this topic. It's important to teenage girls and beyond.

-Erin

Nicole said...

way to be ladycakes!

nicool.tumblr.com

Kirsty said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kirsty said...

a great letter, and i think you're right to post it here aswell as send it directly to them. also i love the seventeen magazine project, it's such a great idea!

today i wrote about how an article in US Vogue's July issue implied that girls who dress "lady-like" are those who men want to marry, and people who dress otherwise are those men want to "hang around with in a bar". come read my blog if this whole idea incenses you as much as it does me!

Che Continua said...

Thank you!!!! I am sharing this with all my facebook friends!

Sarah said...

agreed! had to throw my two pennies your way :)

Cate said...

you make some very valid points here. personally i'm not a fan of seventeen, if only because when i was 17 twilight wasn't the bane of my existence, but i do think the title you pointed out is offensive in the correlation that it makes, and frankly insults the intelligence of its young readers by assuming that the only reason they will stay drug free is because it will keep them pretty.

you yourself have a lot of influence and i think that it's commendable that you've recognized the problem and decided to take a stand. perhaps they really will rectify the problem in future and not let such crass statements grace their pages again.

sadly, i don't think it will make much difference. the fashion industry is based on unhealthy stereotypes and revamping that will take a lot more than a little indignation.

http://inkblotphotography.blogspot.com/

shoot 'em up rox said...

Nice! I don't read Seventeen, but the premise of the article you reference humors me. I'd like to gain some weight, so maybe this drug they warn about would help! (kidding)

Laura said...

Thank you Tavi and I agree with you! After I read Seventeen, I felt like I should immediately take their advice on the best hair styles, how to dress, eat, and exercise or I won't be attractive, and that's why I stopped buying the magazine. It's pretty ironic that the cover of this June/July issue advertises that they unveil "The Ultimate Secret to Major Confidence", when I felt extremely self conscious after reading the magazine.

Jay said...

Tavi, you don't know me but you're the first fashion blogger I started following about a year ago, you're what piqued my interest in fashion. Technically, I weigh more than what I should - however, I am still healthy, I'm just quite larger than the average teenager would want to be. I hate how "fat" is always a bad thing, particularly in the fashion world, it is highly discouraging as a bigger person interested in fashion, and seeing things like this (and being a teenager doesn't help) always makes it a bit more discouraging. However it makes me feel proud that someone as awesome as you is non-judgmental and stands up for faulty wording on teen magazines, especially when the world of teenagers is the most touchy world of them all. Thank you, you're an inspiration to me. <3

Chantelle said...

The thing is, I understand the article is about cannabis - which is a drug that can be used to great benefit for some people. Instead of warning against it, if they actually had anyone's best interest at heart instead of just being paid to write an article demonizing a popular recreational and medicinal drug, they'd be explaining thoroughly and honestly the consequences of its use. You know - cancer, brainfog, paranoia, lung disease... And all the sodium and cholesterol in those doritos.
As well as mentioning that for some people, it's not just a party drug, it's a medication they rely on for their mental health and physical comfort, and they don't deserve this kind of stigmatization.

lpkitten said...

Thank you for pointing out their hypocrisy! They explicitly claim they want to value all types of people but then implicitly imply that only skinny beautiful people are acceptable. They could have the same article but focus on the REAL negative effects of the drug like serious health issues. This is just treating women and girls as if they are only superficial and shallow. We have brains too ya know!

Misery said...

Great letter, Tavi! What strikes me here is - how is that possible that they allowed it to run on the cover? I mean, they're adults, they should be aware of all these things you wrote about and - even if they actually don't CARE about giving such a message, they certainly must care about "what will other (competition, press) say about us when we put such a message". I'm realistic and I don't think that they care. But they should care about their good name, don't you think? All in all, this is unacceptable. I hope this post gets MASSIVE response

Fezinha said...

OMG! Never commented here before, though I'm always taking aback by your intellingence. I wish I were like you when I was your age. I'm 31 now, and you just said everything that I had stucked at my throat during all my youngest years, when I was a 15 year old girl and went on a crazy diet trying to achieve a "magazine's way of life". Never could, of course. And now I'm a proud 31 pregnant woman, married, with a happy life. Never really needed this stupid magazine advices. Thank you for sharing this with all of us.

A huge YEAH from Brazil!

Hilary said...

THANK YOU! I love you for saying this. Seventeen has gone so downhill. They've gone from a meaningful magazine that actually cared about important things (inequality for women in other countries, etc) to generic, tween crap, aka Twilight, ugly "party" outfits, and stupid stories that tend to be the victims own fault. or could have just been avoided if they hadn't decided to do something so stupid ("My nudes got me kicked off the cheerleading team!" Uhhh okay, why'd you even take them again?). Not all the real-life stories are like that, but you know what I mean. Their "style stars of the year" are based on how famous and trendy they are with teenage girls at the moment, not their actual style prowess. Their cover girls and interviews are hardly interesting. I get it. The cover star either: A)Doesn't party, really likes to stay home and read! B)Finds Hollywood very intimidating and "just doesn't feel right in it" or C)Has learned a lot about love in the past year and "(insert cheesy mantra/inspirational love-related saying here)"

Sorry for the rant, but you know what I mean!

Owl said...

This is so true. It's really sad that nowadays people care more about looking good than being healthy. I've noticed lately that their health section is more of a how-to to get skinny. (Get your best butt! Get flat abs! = become a size 0 or you're not healthy!)

That's not the only thing I had a problem with about that headline - not only is it annoying and hypocritical, but it's not even necessarily true. Way to lie, Seventeen.

http://consumerismkilledmysoul.blogspot.com/

sonrei said...

You gave me chills here, I never fail to be surprised by your unrelenting genuine need to stand up speak when you see that something is wrong. I love that. And this is awful, the two words "fat" and "ugly" should never have been put together. It's so sad now how often they are "fat&ugly" though. As if to say that if you become fat you too become ugly, as if to say that fat is ugly. And you would think that in this day and age publications like seventeen would be more careful about the way they speak, but I guess it is just the ad sales that matter. It's kind of like that whole teen vogue "gays as accessories" article. Someone needs to be doing some stronger handed editing down at these magazines.

Rhofy Evaldez said...

Shame Seventeen magazine, shame.

Daphne said...

You're an amazing girl. You're unstoppable!

KMB said...

good for you. i hope the mag pays attention. i'm sure many young women share your opinions of not only Seventeen's content {a mag i subscribed to as a youngster} but many other publications as well. shame on you, Seventeen. take care, Tavi.

Mariela C. said...

I totally agree with you Tavi!

First of all you are smarter than most people my age (i am 23). Magazines are succesful because we buy them, so we do have an opinion on the content they sell to us. I don't smoke pot but if I did, the arguments on this article (i read the whole thing yesterday) wouldn't convince me to stop doing so. The fact that this statement is on the cover of the magazine is even worse, it is so stupid is actually funny.

Keep writing such honest, real and smart posts Tavi.

thea bambina said...

tavi i'd love for you to send this in to the magazine and any other publication who will take it. your voice is brilliant and the issue needs to be heard. furthermore, being that you're so well known in the fashion world, i'd love to see the magazines response. will they publish it and address it? what would they say in return? i don't even read seventeen but i'm going to have a look at the letters column for the upcoming months, see what comes of this.

The New Tilt said...

This is why we need Sassy more than ever :-(

New Tilt

Sahakiel said...

The truth is that it's not very common that drugs makes you look FAT. On the contrary, they makes you look thinner and creepy, so wtf with that article?

I've been working long time with teenagers that has some drug problems and this is the biggest lie and stupid thing I've heard about this.

Thank God you're a clever girl, this magazine really sucks...

J.Couture said...

I find it so admirable that some as young as you have enough confidence and intelligence to have your own view. When I was a 13/14 and reading seventeen or the UK equivalent, they do really influence your thoughts. I was not confident in my looks and many young girls aren't, the last thing they need is some shallow sales seeking magazine to give them hang ups they already face everyday. Young girls read magazines like bible. I am so glad that now there are blogs, and bloggers like you Tavi who are someone with intelligence and true opinions that young girls ( and twentysomethings for that matter) can read and look up to.

Always a pleasure to read your blogs!

http://kingdomofcouture.blogspot.com

Jessica Joan said...

Hi Tavi,

Great points..

wondering if you'd be willing to do a breakdown of other magazines (like the ones you LIKE) in regards to the advertising percentage breakdown?

I don't disagree that the media and advertisers have and will continue to influence our perceptions of ourselves (however good or bad that is), but seventeen isn't the only bad guy in the game.

Poppy x said...

Wow you're such a talented writer! I would love it if anyone could give me some advice on how to improve my blog:

http://fashionisliketea.blogspot.com/

Thanks x

alya said...

When I saw that on the cover of the magazine, I had the same exact thought you voiced here: Is that what they consider worst case scenario for drug use? That it will make someone fat and ugly?

It just makes the entire publication look foolish. They can't expect to be taken seriously with cover stories sold with those type of tag lines.

Then again, I never really took them seriously for a myriad of reasons I could go on and on about but will spare you the time of reading through. Suffice to say what small modicum of hope I assigned to it when I first read it all those years ago was wasted, and quickly.

The Urban Fashion Gal said...

Good job!! Seventeens just trying to scare girls but they shouldnt lie. Fat is a really loosely defined word that should no be used like that.

fashion fletcher said...

omg *claps Amzing blog post! I agree! :o

come visit:

http://www.thefashionsalute.blogspot.com/
http://www.thefashionsalute.blogspot.com/
http://www.thefashionsalute.blogspot.com/

Lucy said...

Tavi,
I wish you would write these kind of letters to your favorite designers. I think their influence in high fashion trickles down to these trashy magazines and it would be effective to address the problem from the top.
This is what I mean:
http://contexts.org/socimages/2010/07/13/courtesy-stigma-and-the-consequences-of-deviance/
Anyway, thanks for this post. As a teenage girl, I completely agree with it.

Lots of Love,
Lucy

Mackie said...

I have this issue also and every time I see it I have thought the exact same thing. I'm glad you're calling attention to it.

Elisa K. said...

Bold move my dear; but that is why I love you!

MissMarlboro said...

Good post! Well done!

Artemis said...

What these magazines stress is that thin= healthy, but that may not be what is healthy for some. Being thin and pretty is what most teenagers strive to achieve. It is considered the ideal. Seventeen is preying on this ideal body form and using it to discourage teens from further harming their bodies; however, why not use something like, i don't know, "you'll have no use of your lungs by the time you are thirty" or "your sinus cavities will disintigrate from snorting up this drug?" There is a whole lot more to life than fame, beauty, and being thin, but media is constantly bombarding you with messages that tell you that you must be thin and beautiful to be worth something. Seventeen is reflecting these messages and is missing the most important messages on why drugs are dangerous.


http://artemisandhermusings.blogspot.com

derek nguyen said...

i think fat is such a harsh word to use...I think overweight would have been a better choice that way its not so broad.

good job Tavi so many people are looking up to you! You're such a great role-model for teenage girls or anyone!

Laurahelena said...

WORD UP!

warren said...

Tavi:

You. Are. Terrific.

Nicely stated and spot-on throughout. It always makes me feel good to know that not every kid in the universe is falling for the shallow inane culture adults have been setting up for them over the last couple of decades.

Keep slaying those dragons.

Name: Alison Safholm said...

Seventeen Magazine should be ashamed of themselves for even headlining the article with that. You are so correct in that they are saying the worst thing that will happen is that you will be "ugly" and "fat" instead of "stupid" and "unhappy." Good job! I hope you get your message across to them!

Irony Maiden said...

Great letter! I haven't read Seventeen magazine since I was 17 myself (six years ago, haha)...from the sounds of it it's become total trash. I'm glad that there are girls out there like you and the girl from The Seventeen Magazine Project who are speaking out against the blatant sexism in its pages. Keep up the good work xx

Christina said...

There is a chance that if provided intelligent and thoughtfully written articles in fashion magazines, teens might have a healthier more informed perspective, however, I worry that it would then become another source that eerily sounds like their parents and they would possibly begin to rebel against that voice as well. Unfortunately, the way to speak to teenagers is to try to mimic their peers. I am also well aware that not all teenagers talk like that, but I do think that is where the language stems from.

sally said...

you. rock.

love this post.




www.iamcoloring.com

Julia said...

I find that the seventeen magazine project is a shallow, amateur, and ineffective means of social critique. Her approach to the magazine from a clearly biased perspective neutralizes her transformation into the "inane typical seventeen reader" and makes reading her blog less interesting.

In other words, her blatant opinions get in the way of the reader seeing for themselves how the magazine affects her lifestyle negatively.

Ana Paula said...

Brasil AHUAHUAHUHAUHAU

Marie-V said...

Go Tavi! :)
I hope that they pay attention to it,
It's really something they should consider.

Holly said...

Go Tavi! ..Someone has to tell them

Lost in the big city said...

omg your super feisty an i love it

definatalie said...

This is a great letter and I'm so proud that someone at your age just gets it. I really dislike being one of those people who brings up the matter of age, but at your age I was fretting about being fat and ugly and treating these magazines like gospel. I've certainly come through those years with battle scars, but now I campaign for body image and size acceptance because it's the right and just thing to do.

Fat people are tarred with a number of ugly characteristics: people think they're lazy, unmotivated and poorly presented and/or groomed. Now young women will assume that fat and ugly people are also taking drugs. Fat is a catch all caricature for every negative trait, and it's poor form and inhumane.

I could go on, but I'll leave it there. I hope that Seventeen offer a genuine response to your letter.

TeeAndCake said...

.. you are great !!!!! :)

Laura said...

I agree with you. Its stupid what they put in Seventeen sometimes. Most teens only care about appearance & guys.If you look at the cover of the magazine all it says on it is "Secrets To A Great Butt!", "Hot Guys!"' and "Look Cute All Summer!" Is that what they think all teens care about?

Emmy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Emmy said...

I think that this headline was probably just supposed to grab the attention of the reader; Seventeen have just assumed that most of their readers would consider this effect the most worrying, more so than if they were told about the psychological effects of the drug. Whilst this is a very generalized and patronizing assumption to make they were just trying to get across a serious message in a way that they thought would reach the most readers.

P.S. I'm a bit fed up with everyone laying into Twilight, a lot of people I know read the books and fll in love before the film was even announced, Stephanie Meyer is an incredible writer. The whole thing has become too comercialized, but not everyone who is a fan is brain dead. (just had to add that in)

Mariana said...

Yesss! Right on! This is the letter that should be sent. And personally, I kind of feel better that Tavi Gevinson is telling me I'm not ugly than when Seventeen is.
Sassy would be proud!

Augusta said...

Well played Tavi! love it.

Ivania said...

I love this post!!! It's exactly what I get so frustrated about, that fashion gets associated with superficial things and materialism because the content of magazines is influenced so much by advertisers.The cultural value, artistic value, historical value, what it says about the present are so often forgotten. Magazines are overrating the value of appearance while they have so much power, I think if they would really stick to their principles that advertisers would adjust to theirs instead of the other way around.

liliem said...

I really love your blog. I agree with what you are trying to say, and I like it how you acknowledged that talking about body image is the best way to get trhough to teenage girls. But I would like a survey or something, like what else interests people? what's another way to get drugs are bad messages out there?

yeah, you're AWESOME. I love how you verbalise everything so PERFECTLY.

dj shaq said...

Tavi you speak the truth!!!

Bec Hem said...

preach it, honey!

Alansiito Masakre said...

Great Post!
Congratulations!
Im from Argentina
And I Love Your Style :D

Kayla said...

I agree completely! I have been reading Seventeen since I was about 14, and the changes in the magazine from then to now is ASTONISHING. I have a copy of the magazine from 2005, and I decided to flip through it after reading your fantastic article. WOW. Seventeen used to feature a Faith section that emcopassed most major religions, a fashion section that embraced all body types, and, probably my biggest pet peeve with the magazine today, letters from all opinions, both positive and negative. It appears the magazine has been on quite the downhill slope for the past five years, completely eliminating all types of diversity and not showing any opinions other than their own.

Very well written post- I agree completely! Keep it up!

The Stegosaurous said...

I posted a "super-long", incomplete, and confusing comment on this on my blog, http://solitaryshoe.blogspot.com

SM said...

Beautiful! You set such a great example for all ages. Thank you for using your influence effectively and proactively.

Katie Beth said...

I noticed the exact same thing, but I'm glad you're actually doing something about it! Great job! Thanks for writing this.

alice-lolita said...

sooo, how does something as awesome as a chanel tattoo end up on something as awful as seventeen

nutsandpaintedsmiles said...

That's everything I wanted to say and more. Tavi, you genius :)

WONDERFUL.

O Whit said...

Tavi! You are an amazing person. This makes me sound older than I am and feel (24) but when I was your age (sigh.) I knew somewhere deep down that what I was reading monthly in Seventeen wasn't the whole truth and wasn't always in my personal / physical / psychological best intrest. But I was never aware enough of the propaganda to form such a well written letter and call the "Them" on their crap.

BRAVO Tavi! Keep on trucking :-D

Caitrin said...

Seventeen has always taken for granted the intelligence of it's readers. It's offensive and scary to see that the only thing I should be worried about when doing illegal drugs is gaining weight and becoming "ugly".

Poppy said...

thank you for writing this!


http://poppysperspective.blogspot.com/

love poppy

Kali Venable said...

I completely agree with you! I love how that is the worst thing that can happen according to 17, not blacking out, losing a ton of weight, or perhaps dyeing? This is practically comparing fat or ugly people to drugs, to things that are both completely different. I am not saying that we should over advertise that people should love their bodies no matter how they are because then you start acting like being overweight is no big deal when reality is that it causes tremendous health issues. I think people thick and thin should be comfortable in their own skin but also understand the health issues with being overweight. I really cannot believe that seventeen magazine advertised something like this. It is so sad that this what our generation is growing up with.

Thank you for posting this Tavi!

www.TheLevelHeadedChild.blogspot.com

HAIKALcium Lowfat said...

hey guys, check out my fashion comic. i just did a piece on Christian Louboutin's Dancer in a Daydream. hope you enjoy it!

http://haikalciumlowfat.blogspot.com/2010/07/billy-elliot-feat-christian-louboutin.html

would love to do request if there's any..

ciao!
HL

Danielle said...

Very well spoken, thanks for sharing this

Lauren said...

Great post Tavi - Can you also do a post about People magazine's latest "50 Hottest Bodies" issue, in which they feature an article on Jennifer Love Hewitt and her "struggle" with weight loss...because you know, going from a size 00 to a size 4 qualifies you as having a weight problem!!

Small Time Style

thwany said...

amen.

qwertyuiop said...

What kind of advertisements did their issue have pertaining to Education? I am surprised at the 8%.

I think you are right to have posted this on your blog, as this surely will make the statement more public- even if Seventeen doesn't take any action you are taking some action for them. I am sure that many readers of the magazine also read your blog (not that you and Seventeen are at all alike.)

You should also send this letter to the magazine and mention in that letter that you have posted this to your blog as that may provide added pressure for them to do something. Maybe suggest they do a follow-up article, you could even offer to write it as a guest author!!

Amy said...

NUFF SAID!
you are my new hero!


www.amylovesfashion.blogspot.com

Jehh said...

Tavi, you are my hero. There are so many absent thinkers today that I am truly greatful for people like you and I who still think critically about things, instead of absorb everything that is thrown our way. I appreciate that you have highlighted that the term fat is not a synonym to ugly. I give the most kudos ever.

Keep on inspiring.

xxo.
F ASHIONCONT A GIOUS

Cloe. said...

I actually thought the exact same thing when I saw that cover of seventeen. I definitly agree that they should be careful with the power they have.

Laura Gerencser said...

Awesome post!! Bravo!!!!!

Elizabeth said...

Thank you so much for writing this!

omgeeurugly said...

Im not trying to be a bitch but I get what you're saying and all but, u really shouldnt be talking about stuff like that because u only offer s-l on ur t-shirt. at least s-3x then i'd believe more in ur sincerity on this image thing.

Gale said...

Wow woman . . . as always you rock. Why wouldn't the decide to write a serious article about drug use instead of the one they chose to write.

Celeste Devane Cerro said...

I couldn't agree more. Teen publications are promoting all the wrong things to the most impressionable readers. I'm 23, so I don't subscribe to them any more (or most any magazines actually, since they all seem to contain the same vapid crap) but your post reminded me that this disturbing display is still going strong. I also noticed one of your reader's comments about Teen Vogue's "GBF" article, which I had to check out to make sure the vomit that had risen to my mouth was warranted. Unfortunately, it was. Needless to say, I left them a congratulatory failure essay, which I happened to post on my blog if you're interested. Here's the link, and thank you for being such an intelligent, hilarious, and unique human being.

http://nouveauvendimia.blogspot.com/2010/07/can-i-be-serious-for-second.html

Faith said...

My friends and I saw that on the cover a few weeks ago and thought it was ridiculous but didn't do anything about it. Thanks for sending them this!

Ivania said...

I love this post!!! It's exactly what I get so frustrated about, thatfashion gets associated with superficial things and materialism becausethe content of magazines is influenced so much by advertisers.Thecultural value, artistic value, historical value, what it says aboutthe present are so often forgotten. Magazines are overrating the valueof appearance while they have so much power, I think if they wouldreally stick to their principles that advertisers would adjust totheirs instead of the other way around.

btw. just read about the shaded view on fashion film festival. it is now 6am where I live and I haven't slept all night because of all the enthousiasm and ideas. Hopefully I'll get my movie done on time!!

Fuji Files said...

These not-so-subtle headlines can be just as damaging as a full-length article or editorial. Just as appropriate language and choice of words can go far in combatting racism, the same can be applied to body image.

xx Cristina

love-aesthetics said...

I love this post!!! It's exactly what I get so frustrated about,thatfashion gets associated with superficial things and materialismbecausethe content of magazines is influenced so much byadvertisers.Thecultural value, artistic value, historical value, whatit says aboutthe present are so often forgotten. Magazines areoverrating the valueof appearance while they have so much power, Ithink if they wouldreally stick to their principles that advertiserswould adjust totheirs instead of the other way around. btw. just read about the shaded view on fashion film festival. it isnow 6am where I live and I haven't slept all night because of all theenthousiasm and ideas. Hopefully I'll get my movie done on time!!

littlegirrll said...

wow!~ great~

Becca Jane said...

A great post and letter.

Lady San Pedro said...

Way to go Tavi!

Teens are old enough to understand consequences of drug use without having to be threatened with its superficial causes.

Seventeen should educate girls so that they can make informed decisions, not ignorant ones.

Lucy in the Sky said...

I gave up Seventeen long ago. It was just a really superficial magazines...WAY too focused on body image (not to mention fugly plastic jewelry). Their style "rules" are so fixed...they allow little room for creativity. Plus one month's style tips would contradict the next month's. Stupid. props for writing an open letter to them. Seventeen needs to burn and rebuild.

zoomslow said...

I really like your way of thinking!

If “fat and ugly” is certainly something you don’t want – then “thin and pretty” is certainly something you do want!

And look! We have lots of ads in here that can help you with that! There are so many more important qualities than (someone else’s notion of your) physical attractiveness!

Octavia said...

For some reason I had a subscription to Seventeen magazine while I was a teen in the 90's. ( Why I didn't have one to Sassy I can't say) If memory serves me correctly it looks like it hasn't really changed from when I was young. I always had subscriptions to the shitty mags. Seventeen and Rolling Stone instead of Sassy and Spin.

AMiBLy said...

Thank you for making this post. I just wanted to point out that underneath "Get your best bikini body" it says "flat abs and major confidence." This seems to be implying that most Seventeen readers are insecure about how they look in a bikini and need a magazine to fix it. As if saying that the only way to have self confidence is to have flat abs and a "killer" bikini.

Fourth Daughter said...

Ah if only more teenage girls (and grown women, for that matter) were as intelligent as you. There'd be no more drug problems, people would walk around smiling because they liked how they look, and people might do something about any number of more important issues instead of trying out 645 ways to look cute all summer.
Now that Australia has a female PM I'm wondering if we'll see mags that groom girls for leadership roles emerge? But seeing as most people still can't seem to get past her not being married OR even WANTING kids, I think that might take a while. oops, a bit off topic!!

Valentine said...

Well done...!


Education 8% ??


http://valentineavoh.blogspot.com/
-the diary of a fashion stylist-

future said...

Tavi,

Just some obvious points:

1. Guys don't care about girls' intelligence. At all.
2. Fashion, like all things in a woman's life, is about girls attracting better guys.
3. Being fat is bad and destructive. Let's make sure women associate it with negativity.

Love,

future

ktmemory said...

Wow! Awesome! I am going to write (good) about you in my blog!
http://kemichic.blogspot.com

Single Girl Theory said...

Oh my God, what an incredible argument. You're my hero! I have so much respect for you - and none for Seventeen!

Rhegan said...

Yeah I agree!

Six Six Sick said...

Bravo, Tavi. I used to read Seventeen when I was 13 (which was a long time ago), and while it never was at Sassy level, it was still an enjoyable read with real content. However, over the years it has gotten trashier and trashier, with headlines and articles that reveal corporate America's decreasing expectations of youth culture. Even the cover is an eyesore.

xx
Tiffany

Elissa said...

Seventeen is vapid, I prefer Teen Vogue though Sassy was definitely superior to both. One time when I was 13, I received an issue of Seventeen that included a guide to recognizing drugs. Well, one afternoon, a bag fell out of my aunt's purse, and I squirreled it away, convinced it was tea, but open to suggestions otherwise. I cracked open my Seventeen drug guide, and what do you know? In my hand was a giant bag of pot! So, my cousins and I decided to smoke it out back, according to the instructions in the magazine. Seriously. PS now we are fat and ugly, but free of glaucoma and lovin' it.

mariska said...

amazing!
u go,girl!
;)

xoxo

www.greatmariska.blogspot.com
www.greatmariska.blogspot.com
www.greatmariska.blogspot.com

shruti said...

you're the best! i am one of those girls they drop in the "fat" catagory and get teased often. over the years i've grown so self conscious because of everything i read and/or hear. thanks for speaking up for the ones like us who have given up!

Jess said...

i completely agree with what you're saying, but what bothers me more about the article is the lazy journalism. using the phrase 'fat and ugly'? hardly the pinnacle of creative writing, is it...

jess-shepherd.blogspot.com

Marisa Câmara said...

stick it to the man!

Emma said...

Hooray Tavi! You're the best!

Anke said...

Love the letter Tavi, so true.
It also made me think that this implies:
"IF I'M ALREADY FAT & UGLY I MAY AS WELL TAKE DRUGS AND PARTY!"
....
O______O

captainsonicx said...

I hate these kinds of magazines that seem to be obessed with looks. In every country and in every language they have these kinds of magazines that tell us how we should look like, should dress like, should act like, etc. It also amuses me greatly that over here in Belgium we have this magazine who say it's okay if you aren't a european size 36, but a few pages later you read how to lose weight. 'So it's okay not to be that size, but hey look you could lose weight and look FANTASTIC.'

So I think your letter is brilliant and you kind of are my new hero.

SAVING BETTY said...

honest words! straight up <3

xoxo, B

franca maisha said...

way to be Tavi!! I am blown away by your strong words.. its all so true and its exactly my opinion too!!

Krystine F. said...

i hope you send it to them anyway! geesh!

i bet they've been getting lots of flak from that "FAT AND UGLY" headline right now. oy. bad form, seventeen, bad form. way to plummet girls' self esteems even more.

STAY AWESOME TAVI!

Juds said...

Wow, you leave me impressed with that letter.
Now I'm fan.

Juds said...

I just read this http://www.thestylerookie.com/2010/01/fashion-basically-also-team-conan.html and you left me more impressed.
I'm a fan fan now.

agata said...

Tavi, you're so talented writer and an amazing person. You really impressed me. I totally agree, you are 100 % right in this letter and have a lot of influence, so I hope that "Seventeen" will refer to your letter.

said...

Tavi, it is so refreshing to have someone from the target audience of these publications critisise their continuous emphasis on the necessity to be thinner and prettier. Teenage girls on the whole aren't the lightest that they are ever going to be in life, the cocktail of hormones that they're starting to have to face does nothing to help the way that they feel about their changing bodies. Seeing my younger (13 year old) sister facing these anxieties and having magazines barrage her with simillar ridiculous advice is worrying. I hate to roll out the phrase, but when I was her age, I don't think that there was half as much pressure to conform. We just had fun! Teens need to enjoy themselves rather than worrying about petty things. Nice one!

Charlie
www.lovefromcharlie.blogspot.com

said...

Tavi, it is so refreshing to have someone from the target audience of these publications critisise their continuous emphasis on the necessity to be thinner and prettier. Teenage girls on the whole aren't the lightest that they are ever going to be in life, the cocktail of hormones that they're starting to have to face does nothing to help the way that they feel about their changing bodies. Seeing my younger (13 year old) sister facing these anxieties and having magazines barrage her with simillar ridiculous advice is worrying. I hate to roll out the phrase, but when I was her age, I don't think that there was half as much pressure to conform. We just had fun! Teens need to enjoy themselves rather than worrying about petty things. Nice one!

Charlie
www.lovefromcharlie.blogspot.com

yule said...

just wanted to say: tavi, that letter is true good and very well written.

Francesca♥ said...

great post tavi...

and they wonder why girls turn anorexic! ♥

http://pillowtalkkk.blogspot.com

Shopper said...

Oh yes, we don't care what would be wrong with our health after taking drugs. We just want to be thin and pretty.

But seriously, how magazines can say 'plus size is trendy' when they still are giving advice like 'what to do to be much more skinnier'. Let's choose one way, please.

Madeleine said...

brilliantness (:

Sesquepadalia said...

Young women like you give me hope for the future :)

I hope you sent this to Seventeen as well as posting it here.

You are awesome and you rock.

Peace,

A :)

Marissa said...

I totally agree. Tell us if they send an answer.

Emmekay said...

feel free to visit my blog...

The Influence Of Emmekay

;-D
you'll like it!

Laura said...

you're such a rolemodel tavi, seriously! :)

Chloë said...

AMEN! i can't even believe they put that line on the cover though... wtf

Xin said...

Well said =D

Stef said...

Now that I see what Seventeen is publishing, I realize that they are seriously underestimating the intelligence of teenage girls. When I think about taking drugs, the last thing that comes to mind is being 'fat and ugly'. The thing that worries me the most is that, how many girls who read Seventeen see that line on the cover and think nothing of it?

*** said...

Tavi, you're such a great writer! I still have my Seventeen subscription from my "OHMYGOD TWILIGHT!!!1!1!" days (holy moley, so glad those are over!)

I was looking in Seventeen to see if it had anything to clip out for collages. That's the only use they can be to me now, and they're not too great for that use either.
Their favorite word? Pretty. "How to be pretty!" "Make yourself pretty!" "How to look pretty!"

What a wonderful message to send to their readers. "You're not already pretty, so read this magazine, buy the stuff we advertise, eat celery sticks, and then (maybe) that boy will actually consider you! (But not before you do all of our workouts first.)"

Thanks for linking to "The Seventeen Magazine Project", I really enjoy reading it!

--Camille

basiccravings said...

Tavi, You always surprise me with your insight. I am always impressed with your opinions and your writing ability.

teresa said...

There is a bigger problem with connecting drug use to body weight issues; it could backfire. Outside of the alleged "munchies", use of harder drugs can actually result in weight loss. If Seventeen (or anyone else for that matter) makes thin the epicenter of happiness, girls may be swayed toward substance abuse instead of away from it. The term "cocaine diet" had to come from somewhere.

★ Nina Saiful said...

Was extremely impressed with this post, seriously you should be on the debate team or something! I've never been a huge fan of teeny magazines giving beauty tips, also the ones online. You're right about this headline, as good as the intentions were, it doesn't have to be this way. It's like underestimating teenage intelligence....well that's the feeling I got.

classique chérie

Aliblahblah said...

Very well said. Magazines have a lot of power - it has been proven that since Men's magazines became more popular the level of anorexia in men has gone through the roof. Conicidence? I don't think so.
The articles featured in a magazine do heavily lean towards favoring their 'all important' sponsors. I saw an article once about someone getting drug raped by a flatmate hiding drugs in a bottle of bailey's minis - the very next page was an ad' for bailey's minis. Sensitive huh!
The Beauty Myth is a heavy book but with some good points in it about media and women. When not letting girls go to school was a good way to keep them down and in the kitchen it wasn't so essential to worry about size and products but once women started to get an education the beauty myth was developed. The issues abotu BMI etc were funded by a diet company - kind smacks of a conflict of interest does it not? Magazine articles will tell you not to worry about the size of your nose, hips and bum etc then on the next page ridicule a 'celebrity' for having a small fat roll on their tummy! It's sad and damaging but it sells magazines and sadly I think at the bottom of it all that is the main importance!

Nina Morena said...

Your letter was written amazingly and I think you hit a very important subject about teens that magazine editors need to know about. Well done!

Emilie ! said...

I'm glad someone else had noticed that even though seventeen and other magazines may be saying that every size is beautiful, their main aim is looking good- "Flat abs, Longer and leaner" and so on.

The sad thing is, that I'm so used to things like this from seventeen that I wouldn't have noticed "The party drug that can make you fat and ugly" headline to be irregular in the magazine.

Emilie xxxx

fromahappieangle.blogspot.com

Masha said...

yeah that true. congratulations for your letter. Now we will hope that the magazine will read this message))

http://leblogdemasha.blogspot.com/

EFFIE said...

thank you

sarinni said...

the contents of these kind of magazines is so depressing considering girls reading it are young and might believe all that crap about how super important it is to atract the boys etc

Nyokabi said...

Good point, Tavi! I've never looked at it from that angle... I'm always reading the beauty tips hoping to look more beautiful but I've never thought of it that way. Rock on!

Meera said...

I am so glad you wrote this. Is the only reason teens won't do drugs because they want to look skinny and pretty? Why do drugs in the first place?
Seventeen is an immensely popular magazine-they could use their power to actually do something good.

LIGHTHEADED STREET SALON said...

YES, awesome Tavi! this is exactly what those people need to hear! thank you so much. xx

Kimberly said...

Hopefully the young ladies that read this mag are not as shallow as the article would suggest. However, I fear that is not true. Their angle was way off mark.

claire b said...

seventeen is only good for one thing; making collages out of the beauty ads. i have done that so many times.

lvbarcelona said...

You said it just with the right words

Caitlin said...

right on!

Charlotte Cassidy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Charlotte Cassidy said...

i'm impressed!
it's about time someone spoke out - in a public arena - about how body image is portrayed in magazines like this.

CynthiaC said...

...another sad thing about magazines, or, actually, the fashion and media industries in general is the fact that "body image" always equates weight and not other issues such as height. If body image and beauty for every size were important, we would see a lot more on designers and brands who focus on plus, petite and petite plus sizes (rather than general/straight sizes). I have created videos this year and in 2007 addressing this very thing.

Crystal Z Roznik said...

Also as a graphic designer their magazine covers are becoming far too busy and ugly. They could also be more innovative with their cover shoots. Just sayin'.

Miss K said...

I've never really been a huge fan of Seventeen magazine, especially because their outfits aren't really what teenage girls wear. You are completely right about this!

http://carlandtheprepster.blogspot.com/

paminpgh said...

Here, here! Well said. I only wish it were said more often from more people/sources. Publishers need to read this.

poppy :) said...

my sentiments exactly (not quite sure what that means)

Sinziana said...

ok ok i kind of agree here and have always enjoyed your blog, but

maybe you should start looking at some of the fashion ads you've posted (and perhaps do a critique on vogue), you might realize the subtle messages they convey about women as sex objects, maids, wives, etc..

maybe you should go 70s feminist style and critique high heels as something that society expects women to wear.

and maybe you should experience life as a teenager before you act all grown up at the age of 13 when you may not have experienced issues with beauty, drugs, and weight loss first hand.

sure i made some mistakes in my teen years, i smoked some pot, i went on diets, put on makeup (all in good moderation)- but it wasn't because I read seventeen magazine (in fact i have never picked up an issue), these things are part of growing up and you should experience that first before ranting to seventeen about it. they just now what hits teens hard. and if you're smart enough (which you are), you won't buy into it.

but the sad truth is they'll never stop doing it, no matter how many letters you writ them... because there's too many dumb girls out there that regularly expect trash like this

Fashionista said...

You are so right!! The weird thing is why would a magazine say something like that. People could take it the wrong way, like, "Oh my gosh. If I turn fat and ugly, I will develop health problems!!" *Looks down at stomach* "Gasp! I'll start dieting right away!"

Yadi said...

Gosh, finally someody saying the truth being healthy! not skinny. Gosh, you got it all right. The thing that should be every girls goal is to be healthy not skinny. I am at the weight girls my age and height should be to be healthy yet I looke curvy, and some may think fat. But I am happy because I am healthy. love you Tavi.

ABIGAIL NY said...

Great post, I totally aggree that people should stop advertising like this especially magazines and you totally right fat isn't ugly...there so many beautiful plus size ladies that people never talk about or consider.well plus size models are slowly starting to rule the runway.:) take that oppressors of "if your not skinny, your not it"...great post also with the campaign of increasing self-esteem!

http://themessenger-bag.blogspot.com

F. said...

this is EXACTLY why i cancelled my subscription
they have a section where they go "OMG DON'T EAT THAT AND PLEASE BY GOD EXERCISE SO YOU CAN BE SKINNY LIKE THIS LADY HERE!!" but then another where it's like "haaay gurrl eat you some pizza it's ok!!" really? cause that's not what you said 15 pages back
&i remember this incredibly obnoxious section on smoking that instead of just mentioning the health risks they were basically saying "EWWWWWWWW WHY YOU LIKE SMOKIN YOU'RE GROSS...QUIT NOW" i mean they had a blurb like "Joe Jonas won't date a smoke" first of all WHO CARES...second of all WHY ARE YOU MAKING THAT A KEY POINT- "oh ladies no guy will EVER want you you'll be ick.yyyyyy"

blargh, i'm so glad you did a post on this
they've gotten extremely annoying over time

cancercowboy said...

Tavi, you made my day again. thanks for being who you are. at first i thought that cover was some kind of caricature. maybe in a couple of issues Seventeen will advocate the regular snort of coke, 'cause that sure as fuck keeps you thin and boosts your self esteem beyond any level of sanity.
the social/media pressure of how people have to be to be considered beautiful and successful isn't here since yesterday and its not gonna leave us anytime soon. its kinda omnipresent. dammit, sooner or later the educational system and the parents really have to start to encourage the brats they're responsible for to think for themselves and not to buy into the crap they're fed every day.
weed is evil and plastic surgery is a gift of god. shit, gotta light me a joint now just to calm down ^____^

@Future you're trying way too hard again. i know i shouldn't dignify you with a reply but your attempt at trolling is so lame and ridiculous that i guessed you're in dire need of a hug. so, please feel hugged.

Fashionlass said...

Wow.
I've written many letters to magazines, but never thought of writing to Seventeen (mostly because I stay as far away from it as I would an Abercrombie store or toxic oil spill). Your letter (and title to the post) are exactly what I would have written to the magazine.
Thank you.
It made my day.

Fashionlass said...

P.S. I forgot to add that I also love your letter because, as a girl with curves (my blog is actually centered around the fact that you can look amazing in the latest trends, and have great style with hips and a chest), it's something that makes me sad every day when I see girls pressured so much to be thin. As long as you're healthy, that's the best body type.

P.P.S. I quite enjoy the fact that they've randomly stuck a Chanel tattoo on her arm... An attempt to actually make a well-styled issue? Probably...

firefly said...

Go Tavi!

Z said...

Love it!

Lyndranette said...

Youre so right! I hate magazines like these! Speak the truth girl!

Lindsey said...

Bravo Tavi! Well done, lass.

Keep reading things like this with your eyes open and your values intact, you are an inspiration and role-model for young women everywhere! Never be afraid to speak up and out for what you believe in!

fashion_hustler said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
fashion_hustler said...

Wow. I can't believe that you're only 13. This is so eloquently-written.
edit: sorry. I hope that you get some sort of response from them for it, because you certainly deserve one. Good work.

geek chic said...

Your intelligent response to the subtle anti-feminism and mixed messages of Seventeen Magazine is impressive and inspirational. I agree with you 100%, and more power to you!

aanony said...

did you get a response back from Seventeen?

ananas said...

Perfectly said! And I think your suspicions re:advertising are correct.

sabisaurus said...

I agree with you 100%. it's insulting as a teenager the kind of headlines magazines use to grab our attention...I semi-understand what seventeen magazine was trying to do by telling their teenaged readers that if they do drugs they will become ugly and fat, because that’s the kind of world we live in (looks come first, intellect comes second) which is seventeen magazines own fault by sending out that message. So if they want to talk about serious problems that are affecting tons of people today...more power to them, but they should tell if to us straight instead of trying to appeal to us by using the words "FAT" and "UGLY"...tell us the facts, and then maybe the self images of the girls reading their magazine will change for the better.
THERE i put my two cents in...writing is a good way to vent anger:)

Jessica said...

I totally agree with you in all parts, Tavi! You were really wise to write an effective, firm, but yet respective letter to the magazine. Always coming to your blog and reading your posts, I simply thought you were a person with amazing fashion sense and philosophy, but now I'm admiring you by your excellent point of view. I encourage you all the time to write such awesome letters and posts. I love you!

-Fashion lover & Inspiration seeker, JESSICA.

SarahPeslar said...

Seventeen mag' is making young girls suffer. Beauty is all around us! We need to tech people ( especially the fashion editors ) that!







www.fashionsmind.blogspot.com

Mathilda said...

Brilliant, Tavi!!!!
I have to remember to visit your blog every single day to recharge my hopes of living in a more inteligent world!

Thank you!

bravegrrl said...

y o u r o c k

C.Laïka said...

Hi Tavi.

I just wanted to give you both my thumbs up for this post.
It's nice to know that such a big fashioninfluence do have a healthy values in this matter.
So, I salute you.

(And I'm sorry if my english is kind of crappy. I don't have the oppartunity to use it so often..)

Greetings from Sweden / Cecilia

Stephanie said...

Wow, I can't believe they let her have a TATTOO on her arm. I guess tattoos don't equal DIRTY or RISKY or IMPURE or UNCLEAN anymore! But fat... now THAT is just unacceptable and ugly!

Gross.

Audrey Plasman said...

What a mature and significant piece of writing. Congratulations!

Marloes said...

Oh you're so right. I myself have to slap myself in my face when I begin to panic and thinking I'm "oh so fat" when I need a size 40 instead of a 38.
I actually quitted reading some magazines because of the nonsense they were writing or implying.

You rock Tavi!

she_never_was said...

Thank you so much for linking me to that girl (Jamie) who blogged about Seventeen. Her quirky takes on the whole thing were great.

I also appreciate you for speaking out, Seventeen needs to change. XD

Tamerin said...

What a mature criticism of the trash that is put in front of us everyday thanks to the media and as you so rightly stated, advertising revenue.

Please would you let your blog readers know if you do get any kind of response from seventeen magazine on this. I am so interested to hear what they reply.

If they don't, SHAME ON THEM!

deryik said...

i was under-weight for a long time when i was a teenager, my metabolism was just too fast. after i finally managed to put on 4-5 kg extra, now im healthy. so, out there, there are actual some girls who try to gain weight and who may like the idea of a "party drug" that could do that! it's just too dangerous to write without any filters.

on the other hand, for example, glamour keeps on writing on "how you should love the body you have" with some not-so-skinny celeb pics and ugly duckling confessions, but then the last 10 pages are filled with plastic surgery ads :) i remember one very clearly, the company was called "transform" and their slogan was: "be yourself.. transformed".

it just doesnt feel right.

Juu Sommi :) said...

Thank you sooo much for not saying that people like me which are overweight are ugly...
you are really awesome. I would have never find so good words. Cause beeing overweight and loosing weight isn't that easy like in films.
thanks...

Krista Beth said...

I haven't taken the time to read all 187 comments but I do have something to add. Looks are important and always will be important. I'm not saying that everyone should be thin and gorgeous but people should take the time to be well groomed and put together. I work for the government and I often see women come to work looking like greasy slobs. Also, I do believe intelligence is valued but even intelligent women are treated like morons. It's a sad but true fact. Seventeen Magazine was out of line with their remark on the cover but I would like to point out that being fat is unhealthy. Perhaps that's the route they should take as opposed to equating fat with ugly.

Raquel said...

Wow, that is god awful.

Oliwia said...

Cool! Please visit my blog too!

DreamDudette.blogspot.com

Eric Waroll said...

Seventeen is just a crappy magazine anyway!

thefatandskinnyonfashion said...

Bravo Tavi! Bravo!

Beatrice said...

This is terrific--it has made me uncomfortable for some time now that Seventeen seems to solely value idealistic appearances over intellect, wit, and individuality. Props for speaking out!

No Name said...

@Sinziana: Well we can't just wait around and take this crap from them, we should at least try to do something about it. And if someone like Tavi posts this then those dumb girls who expect it can read this and can realize that it IS really dumb and then more people can talk about it and more people can try and stop it.

Alice Saga said...

Again, You speak Perfection! Thanks for speaking up for all of us...Old Inbetween and Young./xxx

the Citizen Rosebud said...

you rock. but, you're a smart & beautiful cookie so you probably already knew that.

so well said. I hope 17 hears you.

Ari Abramczyk said...

Thank you so much for your courage, Tavi. I am so happy to see an influential figure who is more concerned with what is right than what is popular. Your letter was eloquent, well written and relevant. I am proud to be one of your readers.

Sincerly,
Ari

~Fleur♥ said...

i agree with you , it's like they want all of the girls so super skinny. It's so ridiculous..
And what so ugly about fat?
xxx.
www.fleur-passionforfashion.blogspot.com

Roz said...

Although I've never read Seventeen (being British), there are plenty of equivalents over here (that I have to admit I used to read, but now find them pretty vacuous.)

I admire the eloquence of your letter, and I fully agree with what you say. These magazines try to persuade you that there is only one 'right' way to look - when it is the indviduality of every single human being that makes life so interesting! I hope that you get some response, and thanks for sharing this letter with all your readers.

Oh & thank you for introducing me to the 'seventeen project' blog, I spent about half an hour reading it yesterday!

http://clothescamerasandcoffee.blogspot.com/

Maddie said...

that is shocking even for them.. I applaud you for writing them an email

Kelsey Mulvey said...

I think you're definitely right their perception of beauty but, to be perfectly honest, isn't "classically beautiful" and "skinny" the way majority of teenage girls categorize beauty? Without a doubt, you are very mature- in passion for fashion and other personal opinions- but maybe Seventeen magazine was trying to do their job. Everyone knows that drugs can impair one's mental state, but maybe the only way that they can get this message to reach insecure teenage girls is to tell them how it impacts their beauty? Regardless, the letter was worded beautifully.
http://kmulvey.blogspot.com/

LTHL said...

Tavi, this is a very good letter. GL with Seventeen.

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